New research from a University of Northern British Columbia professor and his team has found that Canadian minimum age of tobacco sales laws are effective in limiting smoking in underage youth.
Dr. Russ Callaghan, the study’s lead author, and his team looked at data from seven Canadian community health surveys (2000-2014), which assess health-related behaviours among Canadians at least 15 years old.
They found that, in comparison to age groups slightly younger than the minimum age, those just older had significant and abrupt increases in reporting current or daily smoking immediately after reaching legal age.
Callaghan now believes that raising the minimum age for tobacco could help reduce youth smoking.
“The findings also suggest that raising the minimum age would likely be an important policy option to help Canada achieve the federal government’s ambitious goal of reducing smoking to five per cent in the population by 2035,” he added.
In 2017, Health Canada listed raising the minimum age of tobacco sales in Canada as key policy option to reduce the smoking epidemic in Canada.
Recently, five U.S. states – California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, and Oregon – have raised tobacco minimum age laws from 18 to 21 years as a means to reduce tobacco use in the population.
Current Canadian laws are 18 years in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and 19 years in B.C. and the rest of the country.
The study is part of Callaghan’s ongoing research assessing the national and international effectiveness of tobacco minimum age laws to reduce youth smoking and smoking-related illnesses and deaths in society.
The study, which was recently published in Tobacco Control, an international peer-reviewed journal, is the completion of a $75,000 research project funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health.